It takes 21 days to break a habit and 21 days to start a new one. Other articles mention somewhere closer to that: 28 days or 30. Regardless, there is a reason to celebrate because today is the 30th day since the day my 9-year-old daughter stopped playing multiplayer games.
Some parents argue, “Oh, it’s OK. Minsan lang naman.” (Let it go. It doesn’t happen too often, anyway.) Or, “They’re done naman na with their studies, so it’s OK for them to play.” (They’re already done with their studies so it’s OK for them to play.)
Being a stay-at-home mom, on the other hand, who’s homeschooling my eldest, has given me a closer perspective on how these games have affected my daughter, especially her attitude toward her studies.
These games seem to have snatched her focus away and gave her the false excitement to get through the week so that she could meet the weekend with mobile games! OK, she’s only playing 2 hours on a maximum per day during the weekend, but the negative effects are already noticeable.
Something has to be done and until I take the necessary action, then she’ll be weaning to multiplayer gaming until she gets through her childhood. This is not the kind of childhood memory I want to paint to the mind of my daughter when she gets older—that she spent her time playing games during the allowable time, while the other time was spent on half-hearted studying.
The night I talked to her about extirpating multiplayer gaming from her system, she cried. Oh, I talked to her gently but with authority. There is no middle ground here. Only a yes or a no, and we are choosing no to games for her—with a gentle explanation.
There are four types of parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved. The most effective of them all is the authoritative style of parenting.
Authoritative parenting is an approach to child-rearing that combines warmth, sensitivity, and the setting of limits. Parents use positive reinforcement and reasoning to guide children. (Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.)
That night, I knew she was hurt because the very thing she found endearing, entertaining, and extraordinary was being taken away from her.
When she spends her time on this game, don’t you think it won’t benefit me? It will if all I would think of was my own freedom to not be disturbed when preoccupied with something. However, if the cost of my own freedom is causing my own daughter, whom God has entrusted me, to become idle with time, which could have been spent on other productive and creative activities, then I would be like a servant on “The Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30) who was entrusted with only one talent, hid and buried it under the ground, “wicked and lazy!”
So, by my own kind of tree, I will also be bearing the equivalent fruit.
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.
Luke 6:43 ESV
If I were a lazy parent, then I might be rearing a lazy daughter, too.
While we were taking our breakfast the following day, she asked me if she could play the game. She’s trying to see if I might say yes. It worked before. But not now. I saw a hint of sadness on her face but she was able to overcome it as I explained to her again why such games are being eradicated from her schedule.
A few days after that, as far as I can recall, there were times when she pleaded, but as I stayed consistent with my answer, she has grown tired of it and suddenly gave up. I do not know exactly what day she stopped asking. So, whether it takes more than 30 days to break a habit, it doesn’t really matter now, as she has stopped long before we reached this 30th day, for she knows that I will never allow her anyway.
Be patient, parents, when your kids plead to you after you say no. This is an adjustment phase for them. If gaming has become part of their habit, adjustment won’t happen in a snap for them, so do not expect them to stop pleading in an instant. But if you stick to your command, then they will.
You might have heard of the saying, “If you stumble 7x, get up 8x.” So, if they plead 7x, say no and explain 8x. Be firm. Be consistent. It’s only a matter of time that they will break such a habit.
As I wrote this article, Hale knocked on the door of my room. She, then, opened it and asked what I was doing. With an exultant joy in my being, I told her, “I am writing about you.” With her permission, we are sharing this story to give hope to parents who might be on a losing grip in their tug of war against their kids’ attachment or addiction to multiplayer mobile games.
I hugged my daughter tightly, told her how proud I am that she has been obedient even though I knew she also struggled. Yet, I mentioned to her and highlighted her positive trait that she has a “can-do” attitude. Yes, it can be done!
This article is not to shame my daughter, that once, she felt attached to multiplayer gaming. I believe most kids have found attachment to these extraordinary games, one way or another, which we may have never really experienced when we were their age. The younger generations of today are the guinea pigs of what exposure to multiplayer gaming can be brought about in the long term.
Whether we give them the freedom to play such games, at the end of the day, the decision will rest on us, parents. If you see there’s really no negative effect on them, but rather it increased their curiosity in their studies and made them helpful even in the household chores, then go ahead. Give them the freedom to multiplayer gaming.
However, if on the other hand, you are witnessing the same spectrum of effects on your child the way I saw it on my daughter, then as someone who has been entrusted to manage the households (1 Timothy 5:14), won’t you step up and do something about it?
Step up, because you are a parent. Step up because that’s what it means to be a steward to what God has entrusted us. Step up with love, respect, and gentleness toward our little children, for they are one of God’s greatest gifts to us.
Thank you, Father, for being our help, especially in this time of heeding.
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